Steve Stockman, a Republican former congressman from Texas, has been convicted of defrauding two conservative mega-donors and funneling their $1.25 million into personal and campaign expenses as part of what prosecutors have described as a “white collar crime spree.”
A jury in federal court in Houston ruled Thursday afternoon that Stockman is guilty of all but one of the 24 felonies he was charged with last March. After about 16 hours of deliberations over three days, the 12-person panel only declined to convict on one of four counts of wire fraud.
Stockman will appeal the verdict, his defense team said.
“Mr. Stockman is keeping his head up and we’re looking forward to getting through to the next stage of this,” defense attorney Sean Buckley said.
That verdict puts Stockman — a firebrand conservative who served two nonconsecutive terms in the U.S. House before losing a 2014 challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas — at risk of decades in federal prison. And in the immediate future, it sends him into federal custody, where he will remain pending sentencing in August. U.S. Marshals took him into custody shortly after the verdict was read, over the objections of his lawyers. The prosecution had warned that he might be a “flight risk,” Buckley explained.
Stockman has been on trial in federal court in Houston for nearly a month on corruption charges that include mail and wire fraud, money laundering and violations of federal election law. As he heard the jury’s verdict Thursday, he sat expressionless, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Ryan Patrick, the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas and the son of Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, was in the courtroom for the verdict.
“When public officials use their office to defraud donors and violate federal law, we will hold them accountable,” Patrick said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Corrupt officials like former congressman Stockman make it harder for the honest ones to do their jobs.”
Stockman was accused of improperly using charitable donations for unrelated efforts, including campaign and personal expenses ranging from a new dishwasher to undercover surveillance of a perceived political rival.
The Houston-area former lawmaker’s attorneys have claimed that the pair of conservative mega-donors who gave him that money intended for it to serve as campaign contributions and gave the former lawmaker broad leeway for using it. Prosecutors argued that Stockman promised that money would go to specific purposes — including “educating” voters and renovating a conservative “Freedom House” for interns — and that the former lawmaker used his credibility to mislead donors.
“There has been so much rhetoric publicly about Congressman Stockman and his political views. We’re in such a politically charged environment that I can’t say I’m surprised by anything,” Buckley said. “But I am disappointed and I don’t think it’s the right result.”
If upheld on appeal, the felony conviction would make Stockman ineligible to seek Texas office. But the U.S. Constitution, which lays out eligibility requirements for federal office, does not exclude convicted felons from seeking election to the U.S. Congress.
Stockman was charged with two former aides, Thomas Dodd and Jason Posey, who both entered guilty pleas and testified against their former boss. The three faced 28 felony charges in total.
‘This is the Titanic, it’s already hit the rock and it’s sinking’: MSNBC pundit says of Trump’s recent polling
The Republican Party is going to need every dime it is raising to re-elect President Donald Trump because if the election was held today, he'd lose.
Jason Johnson, editor of "The Root," explained during an MSNBC panel discussion Tuesday that things aren't looking good for the president's numbers. Since 2016, Trump has lost three points with men, 19 percentage points with women, 19 with white Americans without a college degree and 23 percent with Independent voters. That's the ball game.
In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin by 0.77 percent; he won Michigan by 0.23 percent and 0.72 percent in Pennsylvania. As Johnson explained, there's nothing that the national Republican Party and the Trump campaign can do to win except hope a foreign government hacks the election.
Trump-loving game show host sets off a tsunami of mockery by claiming ‘racism has nothing to do with race’
Chuck Woolery, who formerly hosted TV gameshows such as "Love Connection," "Scrabble," and "The Dating Game," has reinvented himself as one of the most vocal pro-Trump voices on Twitter. His observations generate their fair share of backlash and mockery, and a tweet he fired off this Monday was no exception.
According to Woolery, racism is a concept dreamed up by the "Progressive Left" for "attention."
"RACISM HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE," Woolery tweeted. "Racism is the Progressive Left crying out for attention. If you disagree with the ProgressiveLeft. They consider you a Racist. They are desperate to hold on to the Black Vote."
Convicted Cardinal Pell’s fate hangs on appeal
An Australian court will rule on George Pell's appeal against child sex abuse charges Wednesday, when the convicted cardinal could walk free or begin a new round in his protracted legal fight.
Once the Vatican's third-ranking official, 78-year-old Pell was sentenced this year to six years in jail for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s.
After more than two months of deliberations, a three-judge appeals panel will hand down their decision.
Pell is the most senior Catholic convicted of child sex abuse, making his case and Wednesday's ruling a touchstone moment for believers and victims groups around the world.